Posts Tagged ‘Annabelle’

A lot of people hated Annabelle when it came out in 2014 as a spin-off of The Conjuring. I didn’t review it on this blog back then because I saw it about three or four weeks after it came out, but I thought it was a decent scary movie. Not as good as The Conjuring, but still very good. So when I heard that the sequel to Annabelle being made was actually going to be a prequel, I was intrigued, hopeful, and confused (wasn’t Annabelle the origin story?). Today, I went to the theater to see for myself if the fourth entry in The Conjuring film series was going to be good, or the start of the inevitable horror film series decline (you know it’s inevitable).

This might actually be the most solid entry since the original Conjuring film, and it’s a lot better than the first Annabelle.

Annabelle: Creation introduces us to the Mullins, a dollmaker and his wife who lose their little girl in an accident. Years later, the Mullins open their home to a girls’ orphanage, only for an ancient and malevolent evil with connections to the Mullins’ little girl to target one of the young girls, and through her, the whole household.

This film scared me pretty badly, using atmosphere, jumpscares, practical effects, and minimal CGI to create a powerful scare factor. There were a number of moments where I was just holding myself, thinking to myself, “NOPE!” or “GTFO,”* which just shows how frightened I was. If you can make me think “NOPE!” and make me want to run (or the characters), you’ve done a good job with your scary movie.

The direction of the film was strong and skillful, the writing for the most part was effective and didn’t have that many issues. This was an almost entirely female cast, and they were all very convincing. I especially loved the interaction between characters Janice and Linda, who have a very sisterly bond between the two of them, to the point that they don’t want to be adopted unless it’s together. It was so adorable, you just wanted to give them that home they wished for! I also liked the character of Sister Charlotte, the nun who takes care of and teaches these girls. Nuns in film, at least in my experience, are either matronly and motherly, or weak and wilting, but Sister Charlotte was strong and decisive, willing to risk her life and even do some things that would make others hesitate when she realizes what’s going on and has to defend her girls.

Me having some fun before the film.

There’s not much else to say on the plus side. The sets and costumes are convincing of their period, there are fun references to both the doll Annabelle’s actual form (a Raggedy Ann doll, if you didn’t know), as well as to the other films in the universe and even a hint of what we might expect in the upcoming film The Nun (coming out in 2018), based off that creepy nun-demon in The Conjuring 2. And they do connect this film to Annabelle, which does explain a lot.

There are some issues, of course, (and here I get a little SPOILER-y). And I don’t just mean the normal ones when watching a horror film (why doesn’t anyone else in this house hear the screaming? Why aren’t they running further away from the house? etc.). I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Linda and Janice, because they were so cute, and because that would’ve made the moment where one of them figures out something’s wrong with the other that much more convincing. I also didn’t care for the moments when they took the demons out of the shadows and showed them full-face, because it looks a little hokey. I would’ve preferred that they showed more of a creepy scarecrow, if truth be told.

And ironically, the way it connects to the original Annabelle leaves a few more questions that we’ll never get answers to.

But, in total, Annabelle: Creation is a great horror film, delivering on its promise of scary dolls making us crap our pants. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 4.6. Go see it, and make sure you bring someone (or a stuffed animal) to hug when you get terrified. Believe me, you may need it.

*GTFO = Get the fuck out. It’s what every person thinks while watching a horror film and seeing when something awful is about to happen in a particular location.

2015: 10-6
2014: 10-6, 5-1
2013: 10-6, 5-1

Well, it’s time for the Top 5 Villains of 2015. These are the baddest of the bad, the freakiest of the freaky, the ones you have to watch out for. Are you ready to take on this list? Then let’s dive in!

A reminder that these villains are fictional and none of them were created by me. Otherwise it’s me taking a swing at politicians I don’t like or plugging me own books.

5. Mary Wells/The Weeping Lady (Sleepy Hollow)

People had some differing opinions on Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow, but honestly I think we can all agree this is one of its best episodes, and one of its most memorable villains. Mary Wells was Ichabod Crane’s fiancee, their marriage arranged for them as children. However while Mary was infatuated and obsessed with Ichabod, the latter only felt brotherly feelings for her. When she died in an accident involving Ichabod’s future wife Katrina, she became a ghost forever weeping for her lost love. When she is raised by Henry, the Horseman of War, to cause chaos, she goes after every woman close to Ichabod, including Katrina and Lieutenant Abby Mills. When she reveals Katrina’s role in her death, it is the wedge that begins the end of the Cranes’ marriage. Sad and spooky, we love this woman, feel for her and can’t get her out of our heads. Her spot on the Top 5 is well-deserved.

4. Annabelle (Annabelle)

I love creepy dolls, but even I would hesitate to have this one in my house. Originally from The Conjuring and based on a real haunted doll, Annabelle was popular enough to get her own prequel movie exploring how she was a woman in a satanic cult who died and possessed a rare collectible doll along with her demon master. The result was that she got the chance to cause chaos for a young family, with the intent to take an innocent soul and send it to Hell. And she nearly succeeds too. Creepy to look at and dangerous to have in your house, Annabelle will inhabit your nightmares for years, which is why she’s Number 4 on this list.

Oh, fun fact: the real Annabelle doll is actually a large Raggedy Ann doll. However the makers of Raggedy Ann (or whoever owns the copyright these days) would never consent to have one of their dolls portrayed in a horror movie like that, so the filmmakers designed a creepy looking doll for the part. And that doll has been creeping us out ever since. Yikes!

3. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Actually more like Couple Days of Ultron, but that’s another story. No matter how long he was around though, Ultron is still a terrifying force to be reckoned with. He seems genial and funny at times, but his humor and reasoning, along with his fascination for religious philosophy, are only a cover for his true sinister nature and his plan to cause an extinction event that will wipe out humanity and allow his clones to take over the Earth. With a silky smooth voice provided by James Spader, you won’t want to be anywhere near him when he starts singing classic Disney songs. Definitely deserving of the Number 3 spot.

2. Isaac Heller/The Author (Once Upon a Time)

Now, if you watch the show you may not think he’s much of a villain. But in actuality he’s definitely real villain material. A wannabe F. Scott Fitzgerald who is chosen to become the chronicler of great adventures through out the many different worlds, he abuses his power and starts directing events, earning himself the punishment of being sealed in his own book. When he escapes, he uses his weak attitude and his power to weasel his way out of any situation, not caring who gets hurt or what has to happen in order for him to receive his fifteen minutes of fame. And the crazy thing is, he still considers himself one of the good guys! Yeah, he does. Even when he traps the residents of Storybrooke in a fiction novel and tries to kill the one guy who escaped, he still thinks he’s a good guy. This sleazy character will justify his actions no matter what, and his spot at Number 2 is perfect for him.

1. Meredith Walker/The Benefactor (Teen Wolf)

Sometimes the greatest villain is someone who is sweet and innocent, but has been influenced by the wrong people. Meredith Walker is a banshee, one who predicts death. Years ago she overheard the thoughts of Peter Hale, one of the show’s recurring villains, where he had an insane plan to kill off the weaker members of Beacon Hills’ supernatural community and remake it in his own image. Meredith, who is already a little unhinged but normally very nice, carries out his plan, paying assassins and hunters to go after the supernatural community. Even worse is she doesn’t think this is wrong, she just thinks she’s doing what she’s supposed to do because Peter implanted the idea in her brain. Only when she realized that she’s caused the deaths of many innocent people and that Peter was more unhinged than her does she regret her actions. Kind and afflicted, Meredith’s turn as a villain was terrifying and stunning and I’m seriously hoping she has a role in Season 5. Bravo Meredith, you’ve earned the top spot.

What are your thoughts on my Top 5 villains this year? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below. Tune in next summer for 2016’s Top 10 villains. By then we might have a few new entries or maybe some old ones will resurface. One can only hope.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

Before I start, I just want to make sure everyone is aware that I’m not actually showing you how to curse someone. I do know how to do that, but I don’t want to share the method lest someone use it on me. That would suck. No, I’m talking about creating a curse for a story, one that would terrify all who read your work.

The thing about curses is that they are relentless and awful. A curse doesn’t discriminate based on how nice you are, how much money you make, what religion you belong to, or any other factor. No, once a curse locks onto you, it’s like you have a target on your back that you can’t get off, and you won’t get that target off until the curse has run its course (usually this means death). That’s what makes them so scary.

So how do you create a curse? First you need to decide on this:

Person, place, and/or thing. A curse is usually associated with a specific object, location, or person, though sometimes a curse can be associated with more than one of these (such as with an entire family, multiple houses, or a person who lived in a house). In the movie The Conjuring and its spinoff/prequel Annabelle (which I just saw recently), a curse was placed on the doll, allowing a demon to possess it and make havoc for anyone who came into contact with the doll. That’s an example of a cursed object. The house in The Grudge is an example of a cursed location, as well as an example of a cursed person (Kayako, the woman who lived in the house, is the one who carries out the curse). Another example of a cursed person is simply someone who has a curse placed upon them, making interaction with others difficult, if not impossible. Boy, would that suck!

This brings me to my next point, though:

The well is essential to Samara’s curse and origin story.

The origin story. Every curse has its story of how it came to be, and often that the basis of how the curse can be warded off (more on that later). Generally this involves some horrific event happening, causing the curse to manifest or be cast. For example, in the Buffy universe Angel’s curse was caused when he killed the beloved child of a tribe of gypsies, who restored his soul to him through magic. Another example is when Samara/Sadako from the Ring movies was trapped in the well and died, her soul was filled with rage and she infected a blank video cassette. And in The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Freddy’s curse came into being when he was killed in a fire by the parents of the children he’d killed/molested (depending on if you’re going with the original movie series or the remake).

 

The trigger. For a curse to take hold of a target, something specific has to happen. For instance, in the popular Bloody Mary legend (which I’ve tested numerous times, by the way), you have to say Bloody Mary three times in the mirror in order to summon her. In the Stephen King story Bag of Bones, the curse was triggered when a child descended from one of any of the families involved in a gruesome murder, whose name usually began with a K, got to a certain age (in the TV miniseries, this was simplified to just the daughters). And in the popular story The Monkey’s Paw, one had to make a wish on the titular paw in order to start the curse. Which leads to the fun part:

How the curse manifests. A curse manifests after the trigger has been…well, triggered. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (yes, I’m pulling Harry Potter out), Katie Bell was put in unimaginable pain when she touched the cursed necklace. Touching the necklace was the trigger, and the pain was the manifestation. Another form of manifestation would be the Tecumseh curse, which was that any President elected in a year divisible by twenty would die in office (though Ronald Reagan and President Bush managed to get away). The election year is the trigger, while the death of the President is the manifestation.

How to ward it off. This is optional for literary curses, but it’s something you want to consider in creating a curse. In Jewish folklore, the demon Lilith tries to take the souls of newborns or eat them. However, if one has a mezuzah, a marker on one’s doorpost  that has the name of three angels on it, Lilith cannot enter the home and attempt to take the child. The angels whose names are on the mezuzah were the same angels who tried to get Lilith to return to Adam when she was still his wife. When she refused, they cursed her to become a demon and made it that she could not enter a home with their names on it (that’s how the origin story relates to warding off the curse).

The hamsa, a symbol prevalent in Judaism and Islam, is also good at warding off evil. It’s no good at warding off taxes though.

In another example, there’s a curse among some actors about saying the name Macbeth in a theater which leads to bad luck. Depending on who you ask, there are different methods to dispelling the curse, a popular one being to leave the theater, walk around the building three times, spit over one’s left shoulder, say an obscenity, and then wait to be invited back into the theater.

Containing/canceling the curse. This is also optional in writing fiction, but it should be considered. Two things one should consider when figuring out how to cancel or seal a curse is that it should be difficult, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the origin story. In the movie The Unborn, the dybbuk couldn’t be stopped until it was exorcised. A similar thing happened in the third movie in the American Grudge movies, in which case an exorcism that sealed Kayako into a little girl was needed before she could be stopped. In Japanese onryo legends, the spirit needs to have whatever is disturbing it resolved or it will continue to seek revenge.And in Bag of Bones, Sarah Tidwell did not end her curse until her bones were dissolved with lye, thereby releasing her from Earth.

That’s how you create a curse. As for creating a terrifying story involving that curse…well, that’s up to you. I’m not going to give you directions on that. Not in this post, anyway.

Oh, and one more thing: I saw Dracula Untold and Annabelle at the movies today with a friend. Both were excellent, getting 4.5 out of 5 from me. But something in the latter film really stuck with me: near the end, the priest character says that evil can only be contained, it’s not created or destroyed (or something like that). I think that when you’re writing a scary story, especially one involving curses, that’s some pretty good stuff to keep in mind. True evil is not something you can easily be rid of. At least, not in my experience.

What advice do you have for creating curses?

Have you written anything with curses recently?

Are there any stories of curses that are your favorite or that I didn’t include? Tell me a bit about them.